Supporting NZ construction’s mental wellbeing

A new initiative is helping tradies to cope better with the ups and downs of the residential construction industry.

Live Well, Build Well shares practical tools and ideas that construction businesses can use to build resilience, reduce stress levels and help prevent common workplace injuries.

The programme was set up at the end of last year with the backing of the Mental Health Foundation and ACC.

Programme manager Rafael Caso has been busy packaging the science of wellbeing into builder-friendly, accessible video clips using relatable, work-based examples. Many are filmed on site at the back of his trusty ute.

Watch: The Pillars of Peace advice with Raf

Topics covered include managing every day workplace pressures, healthy thinking strategies and mindsets, breathing techniques, sleep, nutrition, body conditioning and rest and recovery time.

Raf says his previous role as a health and safety manager in the industry was a major motivation for his involvement. “My experience is that one of the biggest risks on site is people’s emotional state. When people are having a bad day, they shut down and almost go into a zombie state. They’re simply not living or building as they should be.”

“That’s why I was keen to be involved in something proactive that passes on habits that make people more mentally and physically robust.”

Raf says the programme is relevant for anyone working in a busy, high-pressure work environment. The approach also acknowledges that many of the industry’s challenges – supply chain issues, adverse weather, labour shortages, regulations, changing economic conditions – are beyond anyone’s control.

“What I like about Live Well, Build Well is that it’s the ‘ambulance at the top of the cliff’. It’s about mental fitness, rather than illness and focuses on the things people can control to keep well and perform under pressure,” says Raf.

Live Well, Build Well encourages tradies to think about their wellbeing like a bank account and make regular ‘investments’ in things that boost their wellbeing so they have something to ‘draw on’ when times are tough.

“We’re all born with a certain amount of natural wellbeing, but as we go through life and get knock backs, our wellbeing levels deplete so we need to top them up. The idea is to make small deposits on a regular basis rather than waiting until our wellbeing is so low that we’ve got a crisis on our hands,” says Raf.

Research shows that simple, daily habits such as staying in touch with mates, keeping the body moving, taking time to enjoy simple pleasures in life, learning new things to keep fresh and giving back to friends and community can all improve our wellbeing so we can perform at our best.  “That’s what we mean by live well, build well,” says Raf.

To reach as many tradies as possible, Raf has been making extensive use of social media. His video interviews have already racked up 1,000s of views on Facebook, YouTube and LinkedIn.

Raf maintains strong industry connections, including more than 13,500 followers on his LinkedIn account.

“Our aim is to start conversations about health and wellbeing that might not otherwise happen. A lot of the tradies I interview are quite reserved at first, but once you get them

talking they have a lot of great insights about how you manage workplace pressure. That’s the gold. We just need to give people in our industry the confidence to start sharing and discussing these ideas.”

To find out more follow Live Well Build Well on Facebook, visit Work Should Not Hurt at, or contact [email protected].